Energy bills could rise in "four digit range" this winter, Habeck warns
Consumers in Germany will have to brace themselves for significantly higher energy prices in the coming months, Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck has warned.
German households told to prepare for mega utility bills
Speaking to Markus Lanz on ZDF last week, Habeck warned that utility bills were likely to rise astronomically this autumn and winter, hitting consumers in Germany hard. “We have been able to observe the prices on the energy market,” he said. “These suggest price increases in the four-digit range - which can sometimes be a month’s income for a family - and it is no longer possible to avoid these price increases.”
Within the space of one year, the cost of a megawatt hour of gas has risen from 20 euros to more than 140 euros. Habeck said he was concerned about a “domino effect” on the energy market, where companies are currently struggling with these super high gas prices and pre-existing contracts that nowhere near cover the costs. “They make a loss every day,” he said.
The federal government recently made it possible for energy companies to pass these price rises onto consumers, leading to fears that their end-of-year bills could be as much as eight times more expensive than usual - but Habeck reassured consumers that bills would be based on yearly averages and so wouldn’t be that high. “At least, we hope it won’t,” he said.
Government rejects energy price caps and promotes savings
Earlier in the week, Habeck had spoken out against introducing price caps on energy at the International Trade Fair in Munich, saying that a reduction in energy prices would send the wrong message. “A cap on prices would be a signal in the case of a scarce commodity: energy is not valuable, take what you want,” he said.
Instead, the government is putting millions of euros into a campaign to encourage people to save energy wherever possible. Habeck has called for companies and consumers to make changes and “throw luxury problems overboard.”
For instance, he highlighted the practice of bakeries ensuring they have a full stock of their different items throughout the day. “That means a lot of gas, a lot of energy, is expended to create an offer that we know we’ll end up throwing away,” he said. He also advocated stopping heating outdoor pools during the summer months, when the weather is generally fine.
Habeck has set a legal requirement for Germany’s gas storage facilities to be full before the winter, ensuring that the country can see out the coldest months of the year with no worries about shortages.